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The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Warner Bros.
Detail from a promotional poster for the forthcoming major motion picture <i>In the Heart of the Sea</i>.

In 1819, the whaleship Essex set sail from Nantucket Island on a voyage to the South Pacific. The ship and its 20 crewmates were in the middle of the ocean when an angry sperm whale rammed the ship and sank it. That’s the climactic scene of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, but it’s also the beginning of a real-life story of disaster on the high seas. The writer Nathaniel Philbrick joins us Tuesday to recount this nightmarish and ultimately inspiring tale of barbarity, suffering, and survival.

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of the books Mayflower, The Last Stand, and Sea of Glory, among others. He has a new book coming out next year called Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex [Amazon|Indiebound] was published in 2000. It has been adapted into a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard. The film In the Heart of the Sea will be released nationwide on Friday, December 11. Check your local listings for screening details.

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